Thief Runs at 900p on Xbox One — How Much Does Resolution Matter to You?

Square Enix confirms the PlayStation 4 version runs at native 1080p.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Eidos Montreal

It sounds like Thief will run at a slightly lower resolution on the Xbox One than the PlayStation 4: 900p for the former, 1080p for the latter, and both versions at 30 frames per second.

Square Enix confirmed as much to Eurogamer, though the game’s director Nicolas Cantin claims “You really need good eyes to see the difference,” and says the Xbox One version is “as good as the PS4 version.”

Conventional we’re-above-all-this-resolution-business wisdom holds that pixel count is irrelevant, or at least subordinate — and way way down the ladder, rung-wise — to game design and/or gameplay. I’m in that camp, mostly, I just like my device’s output to line up with my display’s output.

We soldiered through the Wii’s tenure as a sub-HD device when HD flat panels blossomed in living rooms a little more than half a decade ago. High definition LCDs start at 720p, or 1280 by 720 pixels, but the Wii outputs at 480p, or 640 by 480 pixels. Plug a lower-resolution device into a fixed higher-resolution display — a display that lacks the ability to resolution-shift like an older CRT, and you get interpolation, otherwise known as pixel stretching, which culminates in a picture that looks slightly out of focus.

Upscaling helps, but only so much. Upscale a native 480p image to 720p (or 720p to 1080p) and you’ll still detect blurring. Pixels are being stretched to accommodate that higher resolution no matter what you do, which has variably noticeable side effects: visual artifacts (especially around edges), relative in severity to the quality of the scaler and the degree of scaling taking place. 900p to 1080p is a small leap, which, among other things, is why Ryse looks so fantastic on 1080p displays regardless of its upscaled, native 900p resolution. 480p to 1080p is more problematic, and if you poke around on the interwebs, you’ll find endless videophile threads in which Wii owners ask for purchase advice given the dearth of 480p-native technology.

For the record, I have no trouble with lower-resolution games if the image output is nearer 1-to-1. I’d be as happy playing Ultima VI: The False Prophet or Wing Commander today on a resolution-appropriate display as I was on whatever 256-color 320 by 200 pixel (VGA) resolution CRT I had plugged into my old CompuAdd 386sx 16Mhz in 1990. I don’t identify higher-res with “better.” For me, it’s just a different aesthetic.

But I do notice blurriness when the output ratios, device to display, are off and the the scalar distance is significant. It’s been a bugbear of mine since flat screens shoved CRTs out, and resolution-switching went with them. The disparity’s annoying enough in earlier 480p games that when I still had a PlayStation 2, I kept a little 20-inch CRT around, just to play stuff like Final Fantasy XII and Dragon Quest VIII at native 480p. (To this day, I wish they sold high quality, native 480p LCDs.)

As for Thief, 900p to 1080p is small potatoes, scale-wise. Even with my videophile hat on, I probably wouldn’t care, because 1600 by 900 pixels on a native 1920 by 1080 screen is close enough that the visual artifacts produced by upscaling look more like softness, which can have its own advantages, taste depending. Don’t stress, in other words, and remember this is less a reflection of the Xbox One’s power than a momentary indictment of its more complex architecture and development environment, which developers are saying should smooth out down the road.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

17 comments
adamacuoprivate
adamacuoprivate

It might not be a big deal but there's two alternatives to the Xbox One out there that don't have these problems and that run this and most of the other games at the native resolution of my screen: it's called my PC and the PS4. I don't understand why you need to be an apologist for Microsoft - the gist of this article is essentially that you don't like running games or videos at a non-native resolution and then you go through great pain to explain why it doesn't really matter to you that the Xbox One does what you clearly do not want done! 


I will get an Xbox One when a 1TB+ version comes out (the HDD on the system isn't upgradeable and many of my friends are already more than half way through the 500GB on the launch system just a few months into the launch) and when a real exclusive launch title comes out (like Halo 5 n 2015). Until then, I will play games like Titanfall on my PC, pick up console exclusives for the PS4 or for the PS3 and Xbox 360 when it makes sense. Until Microsoft gets the kinks worked out of its console, I don't see any reason why you or anybody else should suffer through sub standard resolutions...

justanothergamer
justanothergamer

Resolution talk again, authors need something new to write about.

agentbb007
agentbb007

I have an Xbox One and am totally loving it.  But with that said resolution does matter to me because I'm a tech nerd and want to have the best.  So I am bugged that MS dropped the ball on the XB1 specs and didn't put enough juice under the hood to run games at 1080p.  1080p is the TV standard for great picture and for MS to not put a powerful enough graphics card to run games at that resolution is just unacceptable.


Hopefully as you said it's just a more complex architecture and development environment and after awhile devs will be able to get more out of the hardware and get us to 1080p.  Because I'm going to get really tired of hearing how games run at 1080p on PS4 and whatever less on XB1.


I also have a GTX Titan in my PC and play Batman Arkham Origins maxed out at 2560 x 1600 and I can tell a huge difference between that and the mighty 1920x1080.  I prefer the higher resolution and the more sharper looking image.

AlexDaedric
AlexDaedric

I honestly don't understand why it matters to anybody..

Gamers have become way too Greedy, they believe there's a certain standard everything should live up to in terms of Aesthetics, which is stupid.

It's like saying classic games like Ocarina of Time, Pac Man, Mario 64 etc aren't relevant anymore, because they aren't produced in full blown 1080p. 

If a games worth is decided by how many pixels you can fit onto the screen, then I have no faith in the future of Gamers.

zainfazal3000
zainfazal3000

At this point we should be grateful we are even getting games above 720p on Xbox One.

TimothyCollins
TimothyCollins

Resolution - or at least the difference between 900 and 1080p - doesn't matter much to me. When I am playing a game I am playing the game not stopping to admire the scenery...


As an example - Assassins Creed 4. That is a fun game. It is fun on the 360, the Xbox One, the PS4 and the PS3. It is the same amount of fun on all of them - the PS4 is not 180 more fun than it is on the Xbox One. Resolution matter not much to me.


Now... on the other hand, I can see where that game would actually be a little less fun on something like the old Atari 2600 or Colecovision... In that respect resolution matters. But in recent years? The 360 and PS3 were powerful enough and the added graphics of the new generation are just icing and not necessary.

CosminChirtu
CosminChirtu

no visible difference between 900p and 1080p however... considering that the Xbox one is launched "days ago" and it already acts like some games are just a little too much for it is disturbing when thinking about lifecycle.


Back in the days when a new generation of consoles was released it was smth like "it's obvious that this console can do so much more than we can see months after the release..." but now... hey... i just bought this console today and the games are already forcasting the end of it...


Thief 900p... MGS 720p.... i can live with that but how about in one year? 480p?

joeshickler
joeshickler

PERSONALLY, the resolution doesn't bother me. 900p vs 1080p is fine, i could barely see a difference anyway. Steady 30 FPS and a good resolution is all i'm asking for and they are delivering that, so with that said and done i'm happy.

XboxMan
XboxMan

Of course it matters. Only delusional fanboys would say otherwise

johnrichardsonau
johnrichardsonau

@agentbb007  Does the game actually render the visuals at that higher resolution - I doubt it. That is when you will see benefit. The game engine needs to actually have 4K models for the higher res to benefit.

Johny5000000
Johny5000000

@AlexDaedric  Yeah well... ocarina came out like 15 years ago. As agent above you said, todays standard is 1080p. As to your greed comment, you payed 100 bucks more for your xbox uno.

agentbb007
agentbb007

@AlexDaedric  It's ok for Pac Man to run at 10x10 because it was designed 34 years ago.  MS is creating a "next gen" console that can even run at current gen 1080p resolutions.  But their competitor is running at 1080p, that is the problem.  Lets not even talk about nextgen 4k resolutions, guess we are 100 years away from consoles playing at 4k.

MatthewBryant
MatthewBryant

@joeshickler If your eyesight isn't bad, you can definitely tell a difference.  It's whatever though.  I'm not telling you to get a PS4 and throw away your Xbox One or anything.  Just give props where props are due.  With this game,  you'll have a better experience on the PS4.  That might not always be the case, but it is right now.  End of.

DavidDkEllis
DavidDkEllis

That's because, no offense, consumers are moronic sheep.

TimothyCollins
TimothyCollins

@MatthewBryant @joeshickler  The thing is, I am pretty sure if I paused a game and looked closely I could see a difference between the two... But when actually in the middle of a game? I can't see any difference.

MatthewBryant
MatthewBryant

@DavidDkEllis Or it's because you can tell the difference between 900p and 1080p?  Especially if they bumped up the texture resolutions as well (which there's really little reason not to with 8 GBs of GDD5 on the PS4, but some developers still choose not to).  If they just bumped up resolution without a texture quality increase as well?  Then we just get better looking meshes.  It's not a bad thing, but not that amazing.  Definitely helps with AA if nothing.

There IS a difference though, and it will be noticeable, even if it won't be amazingly better on the PS4.  So why wouldn't it matter to consumers?  Why pay more for a product that delivers less on multiple games now?  There's no sheep here, just informed consumers.  Now stop being rude and childish.  Thanks.